It was a thrilling finish and a dream come true for Southerly Roberts as she was crowned Champion in the RoR Final in the International Arena on the final day of the Derby meeting.
“I can’t believe it – it feels so weird!” Southerly explains. “When I was pulled forward, I assumed it was in reverse order, I didn’t realise I’d been called Champion!”
Despite not having the perfect preparation for the event, the pair managed to work their way up from their initial 6th (out of 24) in the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Flat class to 2nd before qualifying for the main arena.
“He gives such a good ride, the judge obviously thought so hence pulling us up from 6th to 2nd in the class. You never expect to go on and be Champion having come 2nd in the class! Unfortunately he had an accident in the trailer earlier in the year, so we’ve actually only been to one show since Aintree last year.”
The horse, Imperial Ruby, is an 8 year old 16.2hh gelding out of Imperial Dancer. While he’s showing serious class in the ring, he wasn’t always so successful in competition.
“He didn’t really like racing. He’d work really well at home, but really lacked the desire to race.”
This is Southerly’s second exracehorse and certainly won’t be her last. Having ridden in race training before, she understands the mind of a Thoroughbred, the potential of the horse and the potential of that gallop, of which theirs really stood out. “He’s got a great gallop so I just went for it. If you can’t show a full gallop on an exracehorse in the main arena, then when can you!?
Imperial Ruby is a horse of impeccable manners, an admirable attitude and a desire to please, whom has finished his last 3 events in sublime style. The pair finished Side Saddle Champion at Aintree last year, 2nd in a strong RoR class at Surrey County Show before being crowned National Champion here at Hickstead. Ruby, who is best described as loving, sweet and a bit dopey, spends his life at his owners yard, (the same owner he had when he was in race training) and lives out with 5 other geldings, ranging from a Welsh Section B to happy hackers.
Next, Southerly and Ruby will be heading to the New Forest Show where they’ll aim for the RoR Challenge, a working hunter style class. Having not even expected to get to Hickstead after the accident, they haven’t planned the remainder of the year yet.
“The RoR series is brilliant, it gives a lifeline for retired racehorses. You really do wonder what would happen to them all without charities like these. To anyone thinking about taking one on, I’d say go for it. Give them a chance. But make sure you give them downtime before you start the retraining process. They deserve that and it’s good for their mind.”
Photo credit: Frog & Field.